On this day in history : 18th June 1822 – An 18ft bronze statue of Achilles is unveiled in Hyde Park, London…. Originally it was nude and caused outrage – so a small fig leaf was added….
The statue was made by sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott, who was an enthusiast of the Ancient Greeks and it was to commemorate Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington…. Achilles was the Greek hero of The Trojan War and the statue used 33 tonnes of bronze repurposed from captured French canons…. The body was modelled on a Roman figure found on Monte Cavalio in Italy – and the head was based on the Duke of Wellington himself…. It was cast in Westmacott’s foundry in Pimlico….
The statue, which is located close to Queen Elizabeth Gate at Hyde Park Corner was the first statue to be installed in Hyde Park – and London’s first nude statue! It had been commissioned for £10,000 by the upper class society of ‘Ladies of England’ and was installed on the orders of King George III…. People were shocked and disgusted by the statue’s nudity – especially as it was a tribute from the ‘Ladies of England’…. A fig leaf was quickly added for modesty….